17 Ways to Ease Back-to-School

For a kid, going from a lazy summer where the only thing their schedule is play to having to rise with the sun, look remotely human, and pay attention all day can be a major shock. But there are ways you can make things go more smoothly, starting right now.

Reset TheirĀ Body Clock

Odds are, they have been playing until late into the evening and then sleeping in. Easing them back to a school-year schedule will ensure that they show up bright-eyed, if not bushy-tailed. Here’s how:

Spin Sleep

“You have to get the kids on board,”. If they see going to bed as a punishment or a bummer, they are going to avoid it. But if they understand that sleep is good for them, just as exercise is, they may resist less. “Talk about it like ‘It’s not that you have to go to sleep, but that you get to go to sleep.'” It also helps to tell them that you’re going to be resetting your schedule, too, and have only incredibly boring stuff — cleaning the bathroom, discussing health care reform with her father — planned for the evening. “That way, the kid doesn’t feel punished. It’s the whole family getting ready.”

Do the Sums

Calculate the hour at which they will need to get up in order to get to school on time (allowing a generous cushion for chaos) and count backward nine or so hours. That’s her “falling-asleep time” once school starts.Her bedtime might be 10 or 20 minutes before that.

Shift Them To-Bed and Wake-Up Times

If they have been going to bed too late, beginning two weeks before school starts, move the bedtime up about 20 minutes every three or so days. “You cannot expect a kid who’s been staying up until eleven to go to bed at nine all at once,” “They are just going to get frustrated and lie awake.” This change also means that exciting activities like TV watching and texting friends have to end earlier in the evening so your kid has time to wind down. Also, from the very first day you start shifting their bedtime, start rousing them at the time they will need to get up for school so they will tire earlier at night.

Make Getting Up Worth It

We recommend that, after you flip on the light and open the bedroom shades to let in the brightest sun possible, you let your kid play a video game or watch TV first thing in the morning — at least for a few days. “It may sound like blasphemy, but think about it: Waking up is biological. Getting out of bed, on the other hand, is volitional.” In other words, give them some incentive. By the start of school, her body will be in the habit of getting up earlier.

Don’t Force It

On the night before school starts, your child might be too wound up to get to bed on time. “It’s not a big deal for one night,” their excitement will fuel the first day. Saying something like “You have to go to sleep because tomorrow is the first day of school” will only add to the pressure. “You can’t force yourself to fall asleep,”.

Get a Workplace that Works

Just as nature will reclaim an abandoned property by engulfing it in spooky trees and tall grass, your child’s desk, if you can even see it, is by now probably home to toys, trophies, discarded clothing, and artwork that’s just short of being good enough for refrigerator display. Not exactly a place that encourages focus. The best way to set up your child’s homework space? Let them do it, “Parents tend to organize their kids based on their own organization style,”. “That works for you, but it may not work for your child.”

That doesn’t mean, though, that you can’t help your kid discover his perfect, intuitive workspace. After the desk is cleared, have him sit down at it. Ask him to close his eyes and name the essential items he needs to do his homework. (These may include pens, books, a calculator, a computer, and even a drink or snack. Some kids work well with an iPod playing soft music.) Then have him place his hand where he’d think to grab the item. Wherever it is he reaches, that’s where that object should live. Repeat this process with all the essentials. (Some kids might do this better with their eyes open, and that’s fine.) Voila! The perfect setup for your child to work efficiently.

Deal With “I Don’t Want to Go to School!”

Unless you home school, there’s no question your kid has to be backpack-on, lunch-box-in-hand ready on day one. Still, replying “You have to go, or Mammy and Daddy will go to jail,” while true, isn’t ideal. Ask him exactly what it is about school that’s eating at him and don’t accept “Everything” as an answer. Probe gently, and depending on what he says, here’s how to help him wrap his mind around the fact that September is just around the corner.

If what he means is: I don’t want summer to end.

Well, who can blame him? “But help put that in perspective,” says Peters. “Dreading the end of a good thing doesn’t mean that school is a bad thing.” A reminder of the aspects of school that he adored last year — friends, clubs, a particular subject — should do it.

If what he means is: I’ve heard older kids say school is not cool.

You should be able to ferret this out pretty easily. Then a quick “Are you kidding? What’s not cool about meeting new people and learning new things?” should do it for a kindergartner or first-grader. To an older kid, you might say, “Do you really dislike school, all day, every day?” If it’s fear of seeming uncool, he will probably be able to name some aspects of school he enjoys, and you can just remind him that he doesn’t have to pretend to dislike something just to fit in.

If what he means is: I’m afraid of the work.

Reassure him that the first six weeks of school is always a catch-up time and that when the pace picks up, you’ll do whatever he needs to support him. “You can always get a tutor to help out,” But watch your language here. “You want to empathize about the fact that certain things may be hard,” without making the problem seem insurmountable.

If what he means is: I’m worried I’ll have no friends/be bullied/have to eat lunch alone.

Social worries are huge for kids and can cause a lot of anxiety about the start of school. “If something happened last year, they’re probably thinking that more of the same is going to happen,”. There’s a lot you can do, though. Find out before his first day if his friends are going to be in his class, and if they’re not, prepare him for that by talking over whom he can eat lunch with and making plans for after school. See if you can have a late-summer playdate to reconnect him with some of the kids he likes, or even arrange to have breakfast on the first day of school with his best friend and his best friend’s mum. The more he knows about what’s coming up, the better he’ll feel.

Not Least: Meet the Teacher!

 

In the week before school starts — after that, things will be madness — make contact either in person or via e-mail and introduce yourself. You can let them know if your child has any particular sensitivities or if he or she needs special accommodations. Plus, it’ll start off your relationship on a positive note.

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